The title of this post was taken from a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote in Paris, on Nov. 13. 1787. He sent that letter to William Smith. Those words do not appear in the Declaration of Independence. Those words do not appear in the U.S. Constitution.
In fact, Jefferson “wanted the new Constitution to be accompanied by a written ‘bill of rights’ to guarantee personal liberties, such as freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom from standing armies, trial by jury, and habeas corpus.” — THE FIRST AMENDMENT ENCYCLOPEDIA
When Jefferson was sworn in to become the third president of the United States (1801—1809), he took the same oath that is enshrined in the US. Constitution. Every president has taken that oath, an oath that defines what the Founding Fathers thought a patriot should be
There are many in the United States today that think they are patriots, but, because of that Constitutional Oath, some so-called patriots are wrong. They are not patriots. They are anarchists, loyalists (to Trump or another authoritarian), and traitors.
Patriotism is not defined as blind loyalty to an individual, the flag, a religion, or a militia. For instance: The Oath Keepers or The Three Percenters, et al. To these violent militias, nothing matters but defending what they blindly think is their country against anyone they see as a threat, and that means anyone that doesn’t think like them. If we disagree with what they think, they often reply with something like, “Go home. Go back to Russia, or Africa, or China…. Get out of my country.”
Imagine what it must be like to be blindly loyal to someone like Donald Trump and/or the U.S. flag with little or no knowledge of the U.S. Constitution. For those ignorant, misguided Americans, the concept of patriotism tied to the U.S. Constitution would seem alien because not every American takes the Constitutional Oath of Office, and many Americans don’t know what the U.S. Constitution says beyond the 1st and 2nd Amendments, and many also get the meaning of those two amendments wrong.
Freedom of speech doesn’t mean you’re free to say whatever you want. For some liars, we have libel and slander laws. And writing for the Supreme Court in the 1919 case of Schenck v. United States, Justice Holmes argued, “The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic.”
Just one year after Schenck, United States Attorney General Mitchell Palmer, in congressional testimony, claimed, “A man may say what he will, as has often been said; but if he cries ‘fire’ in a crowded theater, with the intent to injure the people there assembled, certainly his right of free speech does not protect him against the punishment that is his just desert [sic].”
So, deliberately making a false statement that might harm someone, may not fall under the protections offered by the 1st Amendment. Still, the individual making such a false statement is innocent until proven guilty.
“The founders (including Jefferson) required an oath for federal and state officials—absent a religious test—in the Constitution, but the specifics—such as the wording of the oath—were left to the First Congress (1789–1791). In its first act, Congress specified the wording: “I, ______, do solemnly swear or affirm (as the case may be) that I will support the Constitution of the United States.” This oath was used for all federal officials except the President, whose oath was prescribed specifically in the Constitution (Article II, section 1, clause 8).”
Today, who is required to take the oath to defend the U.S. Constitution against both foreign and domestic enemies?
1. Every President of the United States
2. Every member of Congress
3. Every member of the state legislatures and all executive and judicial officers, the United States and the states. (Again, think of all the Republicans in charge of state elections that defied President Donald Trump’s attempts to find votes that would make him the winner.)
4. Every judge (Think of the dozens of judges that ruled against Donald Trump’s challenges to the 2020 election, even judges appointed by Trump.)
5. FBI agents and other federal law enforcement officers
6. Federal employees, including postal workers
7. Both officers and enlisted servicemembers swear to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, but in the Oath of Enlistment, service members swear they will “obey the orders of the president of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over [them], according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice.” However, officers do not include the president in their Oath of Office.
That may not be the complete list.
Most Americans who take that oath also live by that oath, and it doesn’t matter if they are Democrats, Republicans, or independent voters. To millions of Americans, regardless of their political and religious beliefs, their loyalty is to the U.S. Constitution, not to an individual, religion, or private militia. Still, some that have taken the oath never intended to defend the U.S. Constitution. Case in point: On January 6, 2021, President Donald Trump told his supporters at a rally near the capital to “fight like hell.” He also told them to march on the capital, and they did. Then they attempted to pull off a violent coup and install Trump as president for life.
I have no doubts that most if not all of that violent mob that attacked the US capital on January 6, 2021, thanks to Donald Trump urging them to “fight like hell” saw themselves as patriots following the flags they carried. But which flag: that mob carried US flags, Confederate flags, and flags with only TRUMP’s name on them?
The real patriots on January 6, were the capital police, risking their lives to save and preserve the U.S. Constitution they took an oath to defend, not Trump’s mob of loyalists, anarchists, and alleged fascists.
Never for Glory is the unfinished sequel of The Patriot Oath. With 25 completed chapters, there are about 10 to 15 left to finish the first draft. The first five chapters have already been presented to two of the four critique groups I belong to. One of the two groups has heard all of The Patriot Oath. The second group hasn’t, and I am getting conflicting constructive criticism from the two groups. One group is suggesting a lot of changes, and the other group familiar with the first novel in the series likes what they’re hearing with little need for massive revisions.
With this post, I’m inviting readers that have read The Patriot Oath to have a look at Never for Glory’s first chapter and, if wiling, to leave comments letting me know what works, what doesn’t. Thank you. If this early preview works, I have another four chapters I’m willing to add to this post later.
After their first HALO jump together in 2002, Josh and Cheéte vanished into the Hindu Kush Mountains, a rugged area covering 160,000 square miles. Their orders had been to search for targets of opportunity, and for weeks they worked alone with little or no support.
Now, in 2019, seventeen years later, they were doing it again. Still, this time their C-130 belonged to The Oath Group, and it was 30,000 feet over Venezuela.
Getting ready for the repeat was like déjà vu all over again. Back then, they were Marine Corps scout snipers serving in Operation Anaconda against al-Qaeda, Taliban insurgents, and members of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. That had been their last mission together. Cheéte retired a few months later in 2003.
“I can’t believe my ghillie suit still fits,” Josh said. “It feels the same, hot and heavy. Too bad DARPA wouldn’t let me use that invisible, bulletproof combat suit for this mission. It was perfect last summer for our sortie in Montana.”
Cheéte grunted as he finished squeezing into his old camouflaged ghillie suit. Once he had it on, he looked like an unkempt yeti that needed to lose some weight. “Well, some of us don’t always get what we want. You’ve been out for less than a year so I’m not surprised your suit fits, but I think mine is going to eat me like it’s a starving anaconda.”
They were talking to each other through their helmet’s military-grade communication units.
Josh grinned as he fastened a g-suit around his abdomen and legs, covering most of the camouflaged outfit he wore underneath. Then he manually inflated the g-suit’s five air bladders. The pressure around the muscles would prevent blood from pooling in the feet and legs and push blood pressure up to the heart and brain. The last thing he did was to attach the oxygen mask and tactical goggles.
With a frustrating sigh, huffing, and puffing, Cheéte managed to do the same thing. Once they were on the ground, they’d ditch the gear required for the HALO jump. Their ghillie suits were designed to conceal them from prying eyes.
Like most Marine Corps snipers, they’d made their own unique disguises by hand and, when not in use, stored them in sealed, plastic boxes lined in cotton and kept dry with silica gel packets.
“I’m worried my Christian Crow wife knows about my two other common law wives,” Cheéte said, interrupting Josh’s thoughts.
Josh did a double-take and stared at his old friend. “Whoa! Where the hell did that come from?”
“Well, in case I don’t make it home, I wanted you to know what’s going on in my life. My Christian wife said the only reason for sex is to create children for God. When I said no more kids, she cut me off. There’s no way I’m going without. I refuse to let my demons have an excuse to mess up my nights. What about you?”
“I have nothing to confess to anyone,” Josh replied.
“Ah, … what about Rachel and Mia?”
A green light came on, signaling that it was time to jump. At the same time, the C-130’s ramp started to yawn open, depressurizing the cabin.
Josh stood, ready to go.
“Well?” Cheéte asked.
“I haven’t had sex with anyone since Rachel was shot in San Francisco and is still in the hospital. So, I’m not that desperate.” Finished, he walked off the aft ramp and dropped from sight, falling 30,000 feet toward the ground.
“Sheesh,” Cheéte hissed. “That’s not what I wanted to hear.” Then he was dropping with his belly pointed toward the ground, his chin lifted up, and his arms and legs spread out for stability.
As Josh fell hard and fast, he thought about Rachel and Mia. He’d lied to Cheéte. He was desperate, explaining why he was losing a lot of sleep. But he disagreed with the crap that sexual frustration was normal. So, shrug and take it in stride.
Bull shit! he thought. He couldn’t remember ever being celibate this long before.
The temptation to keep both of his lovers, as Mia had suggested, was almost overwhelming. But, when he thought about going through with it, he heard Dr. Tate’s voice telling him that would be wrong. Then there was the Christian guilt his mother instilled in him as a child with the Seventh Commandment, “Thou shall not commit adultery.”
He still didn’t understand why his mother started preaching that to him when he was seven. It couldn’t have been because of his crush on Rachel in 2nd grade. He never told anyone about that. There was no way his mother could have known.
To escape the jumble of depressing thoughts stirring up trouble inside his head, he gave himself over to the plunge. Jumping from 30,000 feet felt more like flying than falling. It was windy, loud, and intense. Josh’s senses became wildly alive. That’s why he had an obsession for HALO jumps. The thrill lasted about three times longer than a basic skydiver’s altitude.
With a stable belly-to-earth position, the fastest speed he’d reach was 120 mph. If he wanted to fly faster, he’d shift position so his head was facing the ground and his feet were pointed up. Then he’d drop at 180 mph. Josh had always wondered what it would be like to die like that. Every time he jumped, he’d been tempted to find out.
Checking out of life like that also offered him an easy way to avoid deciding between Rachel and Mia. Because this was a high altitude low open insertion, the main chute was programmed to open automatically at 1,900 feet. If that failed, the reserve chute deployed at 1,000.
The best way to bail out of life would be to use one of his keen-edged combat knives and cut the straps that held the two ‛chutes to his body. He had about a minute left to make that decision.
Was there a better way to die if you were doing something you loved? He started laughing and thought he sounded possessed.
Still, there was Damian Bran, the man they were hunting. He was the one responsible for Rachel living in a hospital, trapped in a coma. Wasn’t that a good enough reason to hang on?
Bran had been a heartless CIA agent for thirty years who left the agency in 2009. He was also known as the Strawman because of his tall, thin stature. Soon after he retired, he’d joined a white supremacist neo-Nazi militia in Montana and ended up working for a ruthless libertarian billionaire, a match made by Mephistopheles.
Josh had been hunting Bran since Rachel had been shot. His efforts to find the former CIA agent had started by putting the man’s wife under surveillance. There had been no calls or texts in or out. Instead, she hadn’t budged from their home in a remote area of Minnesota and didn’t seem to care if she ever saw her husband again.
After The Oath Group’s successful raid in Northwest Montana on that neo-Nazi training camp, Charles Tweet, the billionaire that financed the militia, revealed it was Bran who introduced him to the profitable sex trade. It turned out that the former field agent had started trafficking children years before he left the agency.
Most of the young sex slaves Bran sold to Tweet had ended up working in massage parlors spread across the United States. But some of the most beautiful had suffered a worse fate. If one of them was unfortunate enough to catch the billionaire’s eye, they were doomed.
His last intended victim had been a seventy-six-pound thirteen-year-old Ukrainian girl. The billionaire had slipped a plastic bag over the child’s head while he was raping her. When Cheéte had burst into the underground room where it was taking place, the girl was being suffocated by Tweet, using a method known as erotic asphyxiation.
Later, during his interrogation, Tweet revealed that Damen Bran had introduced him to that risky erotic method. When the billionaire accidentally murdered his first victim, Bran had shrugged it off and said, “Females were created for two purposes. To give men pleasure, and if they survive, to make babies. Besides, when you’re kidnapping children and selling them for a profit, expect to lose a few. Think of it as collateral damage, a business expense.”
Tweet accepted that justification as gospel and had gone on to murder more than a dozen young girls over the years that followed. Now, the billionaire was in court, fighting to avoid spending the rest of his life in prison. The judge had not approved bail, but his lawyers were claiming the evidence was inadmissible.
The information that pinpointed Bran’s location in Venezuela had come from Mia Belle-Chanson, one of Josh’s best friends and a former lover. To her fans, she was a singer-songwriter and a documentary producer. What her followers didn’t know was what she did away from a studio or stage. Because she’d been kidnapped in Haiti at the age of fourteen to become a sex slave, she now operated a secret network that rescued abducted children all over the world. Josh had met Mia when he and Cheéte had rescued her and several other girls soon after they’d been snatched.
Venezuela was the perfect country for a brute like Bran. After Venezuela’s President, Nicolas Madura’s rise to power in 2013, sex trafficking and child sex tourism had become common, and it was getting worse.
The intel from Mia’s rescue organization reported that Bran was living on an isolated cattle ranch located in Venezuela’s savanna southwest of the Rio Apure River.
Having second thoughts about dying, Josh checked his altimeter to determine how much time he had left to decide one way or the other.
Disruption: disturbance or problems which interrupt an event, activity, or process
Last Saturday, July 18, 2020, my blogging was disrupted by WordPress, and my temper, calm for months, exploded. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, I had lunch with friends every week and joined others in group meetups. Thanks to the virus, I have lived alone since March 13. No one has visited me, and I have visited no one. Zoom, e-mails, phone calls, and WebEx help but cannot replace face-to-face visits.
Back to July 18 when I logged onto my iLookChina.net blog to schedule three new posts for August, my first thought when I saw the new editing page for WordPress was, “What the FUCK!”
I complained to WordPress and the little help they offered did nothing to end the stress from the disruption they caused.
I learned that WordPress was changing the Classic Editor I had been using for a decade to a Block Editor (whatever that is). From what I saw, I did not like the Block Editor and that feeling has not changed.
I was comfortable using the Classic Editor. I have better things to do than being forced to learn something new that stresses me out.
On Sunday, July 19, I wrote an angry letter expressing my frustration to Matthew Charles Mullenweg, the Founder, and CEO of WordPress. When I write an angry letter, I never mail the rough draft. I wait a few days and then revise to filter out the worst of my anger. But that rough draft will never be revised and mailed to Mr. Mullenweg. Instead, that letter has been added to this post.
Matthew Charles Mullenweg, Founder, and CEO of WordPress
WordPress Corporate Office Headquarters Automatic, Inc. 60 29th Street #343 San Francisco, California 94110-4929
Dear Mr. Mullenweg:
This morning I attempted to start scheduling the August 2020 posts for my https://ilookchina.com/ blog [806,254 hits/visits], and ran into an “alleged” improvement to the page where bloggers like me create their posts and schedule them. The changes to the WordPress editing page were so drastic that I couldn’t complete that task. I did not know what to do. I was lost. All the old menus were gone. I did see how I would upload a photo from one of the files on my desktop. I am not in the mood to learn how to use the new and disruptive Block Editor that is replacing the Classic Editor.
I always write my blog posts offline and copy and paste them into the Classic Editor that I have been using for a decade for all four of my WordPress Blogs.
WordPress just became the flaming straw that set off the fuse to my explosive anger. Somehow I managed to stay calm since March while billions of people around the world (including you) are struggling to avoid dying of COVID-19. Last month, when the electrical circuits in my garage blew out, I still managed to stay calm. Then last week, my HVAC system stopped cooling my house in the middle of a heatwave. That HVAC was a new system installed in 2017 for $18k, but I still did not flip my lid.
Then along came WordPress with its NEW Block Editor.
Why change something that was working? Why not set up an easy to find a button where we are allowed to keep the old design over the new one? What is wrong with you guys? Keep it simple. Do not change the old so drastically that it becomes stressful to deal with.
In the short term, stress can leave us anxious, tearful and struggling to sleep. But over time, continuously feeling frazzled could trigger heart attacks, strokes, and even suicidal thoughts. “In short, yes, stress can kill you,” – The American Institute of Stress
In case you don’t know it, change is not always good.
Sincerely (not really, I’m too angry to feel sincere), Lloyd Lofthouse
High levels of cortisol caused by stress over a long period of time wreak havoc on your brain.
A few days after writing the letter to Matthew Charles Mullenweg, I read a piece from The San Francisco Chronicle. There’s a name for tech’s attitude problem: toxic positivity, Silicon Valley’s obsession with disruption and destruction of the existing order and evangelical embrace of the new. It’s better on the other side of the river, we promise … in recent years, that’s become its own kind of orthodoxy, where the only appropriate response to new technology, according to the insiders of Silicon Valley, is cheerleading. Criticism of technology isn’t viewed as rational skepticism by those for whom innovation has become a religion; it’s heresy.”
Forbes also published a piece on this topic. “The Myths of Disruption: How Should You Really Respond to Emerging Technologies? Disruption may be the most overused term in the business lexicon today. Every startup wants to disrupt the established order. Every incumbent is scared of being disrupted. Disruption is a rallying cry or a bogeyman, depending on where you sit. And no one is immune: if an executive dares to suggest that their industry is free from the threat of disruption, they are accused of being short-sighted or in denial, and heading the way of the Titanic or the T-Rex. I find this obsession with disruption a little disturbing. “
Years ago, I started rebelling against technology’s forced disruption.
I bought two Kindle e-readers. Then a couple of years later, I returned to reading books printed on paper and my kindles have been gathering dust ever since. Old fashioned books do not have batteries that need to be recharged and do not have software to update. This is ironic since the novels I have published have sold more than 60,000 e-books through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other bookselling sites.
The new should always be easier to use than the old.
I had a smartphone once, and after a couple of years I turned it in for a dumb phone. I do not text. I do not run around taking smartphone videos and photographs of myself. My dumb phone gets used about five-minutes a month. That smartphone was a fucking pain in the ass, always demanding attention to keep working.
Fuck that shit! If you want to replace something old with something new, keep it simple!
When I bought my first tablet computer, it lasted a day before I returned it, because it wasn’t easy to set up and use.
I have an HP laptop locked in a safe. I update the laptop once a month. If my desktop gets hijacked again by ransomware, that laptop will be my backup while the desktop is in the shop being unhacked.
The last two times I bought new cars, I refused to sign the contract unless the dealers replaced the satellite-linked, streaming radio with the fancy touch screen with a CD player that was easier to use. The only new shit I liked was the backup camera and the chirping thing that warns me when another car is in one of my blind spots.
I plan to do the same thing with the next car I buy. If the dealer wants my money, they have to replace the irritating new crap with a CD player, or I will start looking for an older, used car that predates the annoying disruptive tech. If I can afford to buy a new car every few years, I can afford to rebuild an old one when it wears out and even have someone add batteries and turn it into a plugin hybrid. I’ve read about people that have done that on their own.
I have news for disrupters like WordPress, Microsoft, Apple, and all the other tech geniuses. I do not want anyone else disrupting my life. I do that just fine by myself, and when it comes to learning new things, I want to make that decision and not have it forced on me.
This might be my last post for all of four of my blogs if I cannot get the Classical WordPress Editor back. There is enough stress in this world without Donald Trump and Silicon Valley companies like WordPress generating disruption.
Will this be my last blog post? I do not know. I have been blogging for a decade. I have written and published 2,455 posts for iLookChina, 614 for LloydLofthouse.com, 1.444 for Crazy Normal, the classroom exposé, and 269 for The Soulful Veteran. That is a lot of writing, research, and reading. Those posts have generated more than a million reads or visits.
Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam combat vet living with PTSD. He went to college on the GI Bill and earned a BA in journalism followed by an MFA in writing.
When I joined the Marines in 1965, I wasn’t thinking of the flag or what freedom meant. I joined for another reason. I wanted to know if I had what it takes to become a U.S. Marine. Several years later in 1968, I left active duty with an honorable discharge and went to college with help from the G.I. Bill.
With all the injustice, dirty politics, and hate in our country, I’m still not sure what freedom means.
It took me decades to come to the realization that the real foundation of our country is the U.S. Constitution. Without the Constitution, the flag that Americans stand for has no meaning.
Without the U.S. Constitution defining and protecting our freedoms, that flag is just a tyrant’s rag.
In that video, not once did I hear the U.S. Constitution mentioned. I think defending the U.S. Constitution is more important than pledging allegiance to a piece of cloth.
The Constitution is silent on the American flag. Its general design is codified in law under Title 4 of the United States Code, which governs the official symbols of the United States and the government. Its manufacturing standards are detailed in Executive Order 10834
What has been a part of the U.S. Constitution from day one is the Oath of Office. George Washington was the first president to take that oath. Every man and woman that joins the seven uniformed services also take that oath to defend the U.S. Construction.
“Presidents come and go, as do commanders and officers. The mission, style and location of war changes as does the enemy. But for every member of the Armed Forces, whether wearing a uniform of blue or green, one thing remains constant: They raise their right hands and pledge to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
I think that we now have a lot of traitors serving in our government that took that Oath with no intentions of protecting the U.S. Constitution. Instead, these enemies see the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States as a way to get blind obedience from ignorant citizens that do not know that it is our country’s Constitution that defines and protects our freedoms.
The Oath of Office:
“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
Article 2, Section 1 of the Constitution requires that before presidents can assume their duties they must take the oath of office. The completion of this thirty-five-word oath ends one president’s term and begins the next.
From the day George Washington placed his hand on the Bible and recited the oath, the inaugural ceremonies have been an important symbol of our government’s continuity and permanence.
I think the pledge of allegiance to our flag should also say that it is every citizens’ responsibility to defend the U.S. Constitution because it is in the Constitution that our freedoms are defined.
Is there a video that says our flag is a symbol that represents the U.S. Constitution?
Any president that demands loyalty over the U.S. Constitution is a tyrant and cannot be trusted.
“In the 241-year history of the United States of America, there’s never been a commander in chief who has thought about loyalty and attempted to use it and enforce it quite like Trump.”
Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran, retired public school teacher, journalist, and award-winning author. Running with the Enemy “is a riveting but cruel story, not for the faint of heart.” This novel “has a lot to say about the nature of conflict.”
Mental Health America says, “Writing down your thoughts can be a great way to work through issues. Researchers have found that writing about painful events can reduce stress and improve health.”
That is why I belong to two groups of combat vets that meet each week for an hour and a half. We share our writing as a form of therapy to deal with the PTSD that followed us home from Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Somalia. The Marines, Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Special Forces, and the Airforce are all represented at these two tables located in two different locations on different days. One is located at a VA facility and the other group meets at a Vet Center.
“Vet Centers are community-based counseling centers that provide a wide range of social and psychological services, including professional readjustment counseling to eligible Veterans, active duty service members, including National Guard and Reserve components, and their families.”
When we meet, there is no pressure to write and share. It is okay to just listen. We can write just about anything we want in any form and each week at the end of each session, there is a prompt to help any of us that are blocked. What we share through our writing often results in healing conversations. Poetry, non-fiction, and fiction are all acceptable. Through fiction, we can deal with our personal issues through our characters.
One of those prompts gave birth to “The Patriot Oath.” At the time, I didn’t know the prompt “heads or tails” would end up becoming a novel. It wasn’t until the second prompt, “If I could go back and do it all over again (must be a military theme),” that I decided to challenge myself and keep the same characters and story going from prompt-to-prompt.
The title for this novel wasn’t born until much later. Even the characters names went through changes. I never planned to write this book. It came about organically one week and prompt, at a time, but somewhere along the way, the story stopped being driven by the weekly prompts and the characters took over and made the prompts fit their story.
Thirty-five weeks after the first prompt, I had a novel that I named “The Patriot Oath”, and here is the first chapter that was written for the prompt “heads or tails”.
The Patriot Oath
Chapter One (written from the prompt “head or tails”)
Josh Keagan was on his way home for the first time in twenty-three years, because his younger sister had been raped.
When Josh joined the United States Marines at eighteen after graduating from high school, he didn’t plan on returning home to Montana. Growing up on a ranch had been a hard life, and he’d resented it. It didn’t take long to discover the Marine Corps was tougher, but he excelled at it. When he retired a few weeks earlier, he’d just been promoted to O-5. His first year out, he was going to earn more than $5,000 a month, and every year he’d get a pay raise of about two percent. And then there was the contracting business he’d started with his mentor and old friend LG. That venture was bringing in good money, too.
Josh was the oldest of four siblings, and the youngest, Susan was his only sister. She’d been three when he’d left for the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, California. Knowing his father’s stubbornness and temper, Josh suspected his name had been banished from the dinner table and he would not be surprised if Susan didn’t know she had an older brother.
Without a car, he’d spent hours sprawled on the back seat of a Greyhound Bus from Denver, Colorado to Billings, Montana where he’d hitched a ride with an eighteen-wheeler that dropped him at Great Falls. With his duffle bag slung over his shoulder, he’d hitch-hiked along route 87 and caught rides that carried him to Stanford where his brother Samuel, five years younger than him, was supposed to be waiting.
When he climbed down from the eighteen wheeler’s cab, he spotted a familiar 1942 blue Chevy pickup parked on the far side of the gravel lot. It was the same one his grandfather had cherished, and Josh was willing to bet it still ran like a Swiss watch.
“How is she, Sammy?” Josh asked his smiling brother, who was leaning on the pickup’s hood watching him approach. As kids, Samuel had always preferred to be called Sam or Sammy.
Sammy was all smiles as he tapped the hood with the tip of an index finger. “This old dependable sexy Chevy keeps on running. I’ve been rebuilding it, and it’s better than the Energizer Bunny. Grandpa would be proud.”
“Good to know, but I’m not talking about the fucking truck,” Josh said. He tossed his hundred-pound duffel bag in the open bed of the truck and slid onto the cab’s worn passenger seat. “I’m hungry. Let’s have lunch first. We’ll talk after we eat.”
They ate in silence at a local spot. After lunch, when Sammy climbed in behind the steering wheel, his expression had sobered. He said, “We never leave her alone. Today, my wife is with her. Wednesday, Cousin Betty will come from Eddies Corner and stay for a few days.”
“You know who did it, right?” Josh asked.
“Yea, it was an asshole whose dad is a billionaire. It’s the same old shit. His dad brought in a hot-shot lawyer that made her look like a whore.”
“How are the small farmers doing locally?”
“Not so good. We’ve been lucky because of what Mom earns from her books and because the ranch is nestled in a small valley surrounded by hills, but too many of the local farmers have lost everything because they were talked into planting and growing Frankenstein Food and when the monster seed blew onto the land of farmers that refused to grow that shit and sprouted, the corporation took them to court and screwed them bankrupt with court costs. Then to keep their farms, they agreed to become paid corporate slaves. Once a farmer signs, it’s impossible to get out of it, and most of the consumers don’t want to eat that poison.”
“Tell me something I don’t know,” Josh said.
Sammy glanced at his brother’s craggy features. “You look older than forty-one,” he said. “You never wrote about what you did in the military. What happened to you in there?”
“Nothing I did is worth talking about and most of it’s classified,” Josh replied.
“What do you mean, it ain’t worth talking about? Everyone knows about your Purple Hearts, the Navy Cross, the three Silver Stars, and the Bronze Star. What we don’t know is what you did to earn it all?”
“Like I said, most of it is classified.” Josh was chewing on a wooden toothpick he’d picked up at Dauna’s Deli in Stanford where he’d had his favorite French Dip Sandwich for lunch. Every bite had come with a flood of memories from his youth. He’d been so bitter when he’d left home, he’d forgotten that there had been good times, too.
“Can you at least tell me what you did in the Marines?”
“Once I graduated from boot camp, I became a Scout Sniper. A few years later I left the Marines to become a Navy Seal.” He stopped talking and a moment of silence slipped by.
“That’s all I’m willing to talk about. That life is behind me now. What happened to Susan is more important then what I did for the last twenty-three years.”
Sammy’s eyes widened. “Jesus,” he said. “You don’t like talking about what you did in the military, do you?”
Josh grunted. “I got better things to do then jaw about old news.”
“You were a blabbermouth when we were kids. What changed?”
Josh switched the toothpick to the other side of his mouth and said, “You’re kidding, right?”
It was quiet for the next few miles before Sammy asked, “What are you planning to do now that you’re back?” He was keeping his eyes on the road and worry lines had appeared around his eyes. “Dad and mom don’t want any trouble with Charles Tweet and his youngest son Darwin. We talked it over and it has been decided that we want to put this behind us and forget about what happened to Suki.”
“Suki?” Josh asked.
“That’s the name she prefers. Don’t call her Susan.”
“I’m not going to forget about what happened to Suki.” Josh dragged out her name longer than necessary. “You do not have a need to know the details of this operation, baby brother.”
“Operation?” Sammy said with a shaky voice. “You can’t leave me out of this. They crippled Mel and gang-raped Suki. After the way that fancy, fast-talking corporate-bought lawyer trashed her in court, she’s almost a basket case.”
Mel was the youngest brother who had been ten when Josh left. “So you do not agree with mom and dad that we should put what happened to Suki behind us and pretend it never happened?” he asked.
“If you are going to get revenge, I want in on it.”
“You don’t have the training or experience for what’s coming,” Josh said.
“Fuck that!” Sammy slammed on the brakes and brought the Chevy to a screeching halt by the side of the narrow, worn, two-lane road. He face was blooming with anger.
Josh sighed. “We are not going to argue.”
“You can’t do this alone.”
“I’m not alone.” His voice was crisp. “My Semper Fi brothers are already in the hills above the ranch waiting for me. We’ve done this type of shit dozens of times in too many countries to count. When we’re done, this billionaire and his family will leave Montana and never return. I plan on teaching them a lesson they will never forget, and you don’t want that crap in your head when you try to sleep at night.”
“How is this going to help Mel or Suki? You are underestimating Charles Tweet. He is a fucking brutal monster that thrives on getting even with anyone that crosses him. What if you make things worse for her?”
“I’ve got a counselor friend from a vet center in California that has agreed to use some of her vacation time to come to Montana and work with Suki and Mel and help them rebuild their lives. Dr. Tate is an expert in dealing with this kind of trauma.” Josh took the toothpick out of his mouth and faced his brother. “As for Charles Tweet and his evil heart, he has no idea what’s coming. As for his son the rapist, I have something special planned for him.”
“What do you mean by something special?” Sammy asked.
“No more details,” Josh said as his eyes bored into his brother’s face. “I’ve already told you too much. It’s been a long trip and I want to see the ranch before the sun goes down. I’m back to stay. Our family and neighbors need me more than the US of A does, and I’m not in this alone. Some of my Semper Fi friends grew up on small farms, too. In fact, I convinced a few of the retired ones to buy some of the local farms that went bankrupt because of the Frankenstein Food thing.”
Josh smiled for the first time as he shifted his gaze back to the view in front of the windshield. “Tell me, baby brother, is it true that my high school sweetheart hasn’t changed and she divorced that asshole she married?”
“The night she kicked him out,” Sammy replied, “she had the locks changed and her dad and brother were there when he came home drunk, as usual. That was seven months ago. A week later, he kicked in the door and attacked her, but she was ready and broke his right shoulder and a couple of ribs with a baseball bat. The next day Rachel took out a restraining order on Luke.”
Josh pressed his lips together and twerked them back and forth as he thought. “What she did was pure her,” he said. “She would have made a great Marine, and when we were kids, she was a better shot than me.” Then he lifted his butt off the seat and stretched his torso. With two fingers, he fished a quarter out of the tight watch pocket of his faded denim jeans. “Heads, I take the cowards way out, write a letter, and mail it. Tales, I show up at her place unannounced and knock on the door and hope she blows her lid.”
Sammy glanced at him like he was nuts. “What are you talking about?”
Josh flipped the coin and grinned when he saw the results.
“What is it?” Sammy asked.
“Tales,” Josh replied. “I’m going to enjoy getting my ass kicked.” He closed his eyes and rubbed his face with the fingers of both hands. “At least I hope she does.”
“What did the Marines do to you?” Sammy asked. “Who in their right mind wants to get their ass kicked?”
Josh’s eyes sparkled. He pinched a thumb and index finger together and pretended to zip his mouth shut.
“Damn it,” Sammy said. “Tell me what the Marines did to you.”
“It wasn’t just the Marines,” Josh said. “I served in the Marines, then the Navy, and then the Army and I returned to the Marines to finish up.”
“It felt like the right thing to do at the time.”
Josh nodded. “Yea, I got exactly what I wanted.”
“And what was that?”
“Enough talk. Just drive.”
“Try everything because something will click with you.”
My goal is to publish “The Patriot Oath” before the end of this year or early in 2020. The finished novel is now going through revisions and editing. In the meantime, the story of the characters that were born in the first novel continues with the sequel, “Never for Glory”, and I am still fitting the weekly prompts in chapter-by-chapter. The prompts for this week (August 4 -10) were: “horse” and “I’m a believer”. I haven’t started writing that chapter yet but plan to have it done before the first meeting next week so I can share it with both groups.
Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran, retired public school teacher, journalist, and award-winning author.
Would you believe me if I told you the Oath of Office came first and is more important than the Pledge of Allegiance?
No one should be forced to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in school, before a football game, or anywhere else. Instead, we should be reciting the Oath instead of the Pledge that says we must be loyal to a piece of rectangular cloth colored red, white, and blue that hangs from a pole.
The Oath of Office is the same oath every incoming president of the United States recites as they rest a hand on a Bible and are sworn in.
In fact, all officers of the seven uniformed services of the United States swear or affirm an oath of office upon commissioning. It differs slightly from that of the oath of enlistment that enlisted members recite when they enter the service. It is required by statute, the oath being prescribed by Section 3331, Title 5, United States Code. It is traditional for officers to recite the oath upon promotion but as long as the officer’s service is continuous this is not required.
The U.S. Constitution, Article VI, clause 3 says, “The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”
The first Oath of Office was given to those serving in the Continental Army, beginning in 1775. A candidate had to not only name the 13 states, but also swear to keep them “free, independent and sovereign states and declare no allegiance to George the third, king of Great Britain” as well as “defend the United States against King George, his heirs and successors, and his and their abettors, assistants and adherents.”
Francis Bellamy, a Christian socialist minister, and author wrote the original version of the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance in 1892 — 117 years after George Washington recited the first Oath of Office to become the first president of the United States.
In its original form the Pledge of Allegiance said:
“I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic, for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
In 1923, the words, “the Flag of the United States of America” were added. At this time it read: “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
In 1954, in response to the Communist threat of the times, President Eisenhower encouraged Congress to add the words “under God,” creating the 31-word pledge we say today. Bellamy’s daughter objected to this alteration.
I prefer the Oath of Office instead of the Pledge of Allegiance. When I recite the Oath, I think of it as a patriot’s true oath.
The president’s oath: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
History House.gov says, “The founders decided to require an oath for federal and state officials—absent a religious test—in the Constitution, but the specifics—such as the wording of the oath—were left to the First Congress (1789–1791). In its first act, Congress specified the wording: “I, A.B. do solemnly swear or affirm (as the case may be) that I will support the Constitution of the United States.” This oath was used for all federal officials except the President, whose oath was prescribed specifically in the Constitution (Article II, section 1, clause 8). …
“The oath used today has not changed since 1966 and is prescribed in Title 5, Section 3331 of the United States Code. It reads: “I, AB, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”
The Patriot’s Oath should read: I, [first and last name], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion.”
Not once does the Oath or the Pledge say we must be loyal to the President of the United States, and I know without a doubt that I will not be loyal to President Donald Trump under any circumstances, because I think Trump is a domestic enemy of the U.S. Constitution.
Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran, retired public school teacher, journalist, and award winning author.
Bella had her surgery a few weeks ago and one of her rear legs was removed. Recovery was swift. She is now a tripod and is learning quickly how to adjust to three legs instead of four. The leg that was removed was sent out for a biopsy that revealed cancer in the leg with no evidence that the cancer had spread to her body. If the leg had not been removed, the cancer would have spread.
When I learn more details from Lisa and Robbie, I will add them to this update.
Sincerely, Lloyd Lofthouse
Robbie spent four years as a US Marine before he became a Green Beret Special Forces medic in the Army.
Bella, Robbie’s PTSD service dog started her life as a rejected show dog thanks to an overbite. Then she became a skilled and irreplaceable service dog, a companion, a friend, and above all a life-saving member of Robbie’s family.
But the story of Bella and Robbie didn’t start there.
Several years after being honorably discharged, a deeply concerned friend tricked Robbie into going to the VA, where he was diagnosed with service related PTSD. An account of this event is shared in Robbie’s soon to be released book The Next Mission.
Based on a recommendation that a service dog might help with Robbie’s PTSD symptoms that were becoming progressively worse, Robbie started the process to find a service animal. When he read Bella’s profile, he thought her temperament sounded ideal for his needs. Unfortunately, Bella was already scheduled for adoption to a man in Pennsylvania but that ended when the man lost his job and went through a divorce.
To meet Robbie, Bella started her second journey. She flew alone from Maryland to Atlanta with an eight-hour layover, before finally reaching her destination, Colorado Springs. Bella arrived severely dehydrated, starving, scared, and covered in her own feces. Lucky for Bella, Robbie’s medical training helped him deal with her health challenges and he was able to nurse Bella back to health.
Since then, the two have been inseparable.
Bella naturally and gracefully handles her responsibility as a service dog. When Robbie’s PTSD is triggered she will place her head in his lap to take his focus off the trigger. She will push her head under his hands, requesting a pet to give him a calming distraction. If she hears stress in his voice, she often stands between Robbie and who or what has triggered him.
Bella is a kind, loving, gentle giant that thinks she is a lap dog. I have never seen her aggressive unless she feels a member of her family is in danger. She has adopted us, my boys and I, as her own.
Bella has grown into a skilled and irreplaceable service dog, a companion, a friend and above all a loved member of our family.
Recently Bella was diagnosed with Cancer in her hip. The veterinarians and specialists we’ve met both recommended amputation of her hind quarter and possibly chemo therapy. They also assured us that this was the best course of action and treatment to give her a chance to reach her normal life expectancy. They assured us that dogs unlike people adapt quite easily to being a tripod.
However, this treatment comes at a very high price with the surgical estimate running between $5,000-$7,000 and that doesn’t include the expenses Robbie has already paid for x-rays, the diagnosis, medication, and the future possibility of chemo treatment.
With Robbie living on a fixed income due to his service disability, these costs are prohibitive, and we are not in a position to handle this expense. We are now faced with the grim possibility of having to consider putting Bella down. For anyone who has had to make this heartbreaking decision you know how devastating it can be. To be forced to make it due to financial constraints is even worse.
We would not be able to live with ourselves if we did not exercise every possibility to help save Bella. She has given so much of herself unconditionally, and it is our turn to take care of her.
Bella is the reason that Robbie, during very dark times, did not take his own life. It is incomprehensible for him to consider taking hers.
“In 2017 the report says the U.K. spent some $55.2 billion on defense, Germany $45.4 billion and France $45.9 billion. But this still pales when compared with the United States’ $685.9 billion in spending.”
But what about the European Union’s (EU) total spending on defense? “The total cumulative spending of the EU member states was 267.4 Billion USD.”
What will the EU’s combined military look like? The EU possesses 525 nuclear warheads and hosts between 90 and 130 US warheads. Italy hosts 70-90 B61 nuclear bombs, while Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands have 10-20 each.
The EU has the third largest arsenal of nuclear weapons in the world, after the United States and Russia.
The European Union’s combined active military forces in 2011 totaled 1,551,038 personnel while according to Pew Research, in 2017, 61,710 U.S. troops were deployed in the EU.
Since the U.S. has approximately 1.3 million active-duty troops that means less than five percent of US troops were stationed in Europe.
In addition, the United States and Russia are NOT the only countries with special forces troops.
The Top 10 Most Elite Special Forces units in the world taken from a list of fifty. Fifteen European countries have Special Forces units on the complete list. Three European countries are listed on the top ten with the British SAS at #1.
These are the TOP TEN:
US Navy SEALs
U.S. Delta Force
U.S. Green Berets
Australian Special Air Service Regiment
Why did Donald Trump lie about the United States paying for Europe’s defense?
Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran, retired public school teacher, journalist, and award-winning author.
“There it is, girls,” the teacher said as his group slipped through the narrow space between two large granite boulders. Mr. Jasper heard some of the girls gasp in awe and murmur at the view spread out below them. The valley with its city stretched toward the ocean.
“It looks like purple soup,” one girl said of the carbon haze hiding most of the distant buildings and highways.
“It feels like we’re standing on another world,” a second girl says.
“Mr. Jasper, how old is it?” the youngest asked. Tiffany was fourteen and instead of staring at the view, she was looking at the bristlecone pine clinging to the steep slope near the peak of this 9,400-foot mountain. Tiff weighed about ninety pounds and stood five foot, three inches tall.
“I’ve read this tree was here before Jesus Christ was born,” Jasper replied.
That caught the attention of the others six. “No shit!”
“For being that old, it doesn’t look like it’s that tough.” The oldest girl, Crystal, was twenty-two. Her arms were covered with colorful, artistic tattoos. After being repeatedly raped by her stepfather and three half-brothers starting when she was eleven, she cut herself. After she stopped, the scars embarrassed her explaining the recent body art. She’d been in Mr. Jasper’s English class for four years and was on track to finally graduate this year.
“Mr. Jasper, even you look sturdier than that tree, and you are really old,” one of the other girls says.
Mr. Jasper grinned. He was seventy-four and had been a teacher for forty-three years.
“How long can one of these survive?” Tiffany asked as she frowned and glared at the girl that called her teacher old.
“The oldest one has been around for more than 5,000 years,” he said as he made eye contact with all of them. “You know why I brought you here. These trees are not only long-lived but they are highly resistant to harsh weather and bad soil.”
“They are survivors,” Crystal said, “like you are teaching us to be.”
Mr. Jasper nodded. He taught at an alternative high school that only worked with the most difficult students. All of these girls had been abused and bullied. Some were victims of rape. They all had PTSD just like Mr. Jasper. Before going to college on the GI Bill and teaching, he’d been a Green Beret and served in Vietnam for three tours.
When he discovered some of his students had PTSD, he decided to do something about it and back in the late 1980s formed what he called a survival club. This year there were no boys. He taught everyone that joined how to manage their PTSD and defend themselves when bullied. He also took them on trips into the wilderness and taught them how to survive there too.
“Well, well, look at this,” a raspy, gravel voice said.
Mr. Jasper was the furthest from the narrow passage between the boulders. He saw the girls turn and stare at the three muscular young men that had appeared in the gap. It was obvious from the gang tattoos that they belonged to one of the more violent gangs that plagued the poorest areas of the city. He’d seen them sitting in their car at the dirt parking lot at the base of the trail that led to this mountaintop. He’d also been aware that they had been following him and the girls.
“I’m in love,” the largest, muscle-bound gangster said and he was staring at Crystal who appeared to shrink as fear blossomed in her eyes.
Tiffany, who was the smallest in every way, pushed through the pack to stand in front of Crystal. She put a hand on Crystal’s arm and felt her trembling. “I’m not going to let anything happen to you. I’ll take care of this,” she said.
Tiffany was not only Mr. Jasper’s student, she was also one of his five foster children, currently three boys, and two girls, and she’d been with him since she was eight.
The three goons had flesh-eating grins splitting the evil looking tattoo covered faces. “I’m going to have me three of them,” one of the gangbangers said.
“Like hell you are.” And Tiffany launched herself. She took out the biggest one first with a flying leap and a foot to his groin. Twisting off of his falling body, she sliced out with a fist and hit her second target in the throat and then spinning she bounced to her feet and with her legs like coiled spring slammed into number three with the top of her head breaking his nose. Rolling off of him, she landed prone on the ground and spun knocking his legs out from under him causing him to fall hard.
Her attack took Tiffany less than three seconds.
Back on her feet, with a toothy smile splitting her pretty face, she turned to the others and said, “See what you can do to jerks like this if you listen to Mr. Jasper and learn what he teaches you?”
“Shit, girl, I want to learn moves like that,” one of the girls said. ”When do we start, Mr. Jasper?”
“Tiffany was my last hand-to-hand combat student,” he replied. “I’m too old for that anymore. She will teach you but I feel it is my duty to warn you Tiffany will not put up with laziness or smart mouths. If she says her class starts at five in the morning, don’t be late. She isn’t as patient as I am.”
“No shit, Sherlock!” another girl said.
“And you will call me Ms. Bristlecone,” Tiffany said.
That drew laughter from the others.
The three gang bangers were still on the ground writhing and groaning in pain.
“Can I hurt them, Mr. Jasper?” Tiffany asked as she narrowed her eyes. “I mean, really hurt them!”
“No, Tiff,” he said. “Just take their shoes so they have to hike back to their car barefoot. … Oh, and take their car keys and throw them that way.” He pointed toward the valley and the city hidden beneath the purple carbon haze. “If they want to drive home, they’ll have to risk climbing down the steep slope to find the keys.”
“I like that idea,” Tiffany said. She pointed to two of the other girls who were currently learning what she already knew about defending herself. “Watch my back while I take their shoes and find those keys.”
Note: This post was written from a VA writing group prompt, a photo of what looked like a single tree in a purple mist growing on the side of a steep slope.
Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran, retired public school teacher, journalist, and award-winning author.